Updated: Oct 29, 2019
As someone who has spent the last couple of decades trying to learn how to garden, I can attest to the fact that a garden coach is what I wish I had from day one. Put simply, a garden coach does what a personal fitness coach does, but in the garden. No, they don’t have you do sit-ups, but they do assess where your gardening skills currently reside, what your gardening goals are, keep you motivated and on task to reach your goals, all while demonstrating best techniques for gardening tasks and sprinkling sage gardening advice along the way.
It’s kind of like having a really nice neighbor who has a beautiful garden come by and hang out with you while sharing their hard-earned gardening secrets.
Although garden coaches have existed as long as nice neighbors with beautiful gardens have, they are a relatively new concept to the professional gardening service scene. Maybe it’s because we are all so busy and mobile we aren’t chatting with the nice neighbor to garner those secrets as much as we used to, or maybe it’s because we are becoming, as a society, more and more removed from nature and where our food comes from, but somewhere along the way a need arose for professional garden coaches to march forth, trowels in hand.
You might be thinking your local garden center or nursery offers gardening classes. What is the difference between that and a coach? One huge difference: individualization. You see, while the class at the local garden center is fine for a high level overview of a particular topic, a garden coach meets you at your house and tailors your time together to meet your individual needs and interests in your own garden, on your schedule.
The range of skills amongst garden coaches can vary greatly, from simple tasks like helping you create a container planting for the season to helping you design a new flower bed. Some even have construction and installation services under their umbrella so when their coaching services are fulfilled they can assist with other landscaping needs. The main distinction is coaches assist, suggest, and guide whereas garden designers and landscapers often do some or all of the gardening tasks for you.
Who hires a garden coach?
People who find garden coaches to be of great value include new homeowners who can feel overwhelmed with a yard that needs consistent care while trying to balance all the other demands of life and work. As long as they have a Do-It-Yourself spirit, they will be well served by a garden coach. Beginning gardeners also find coaching valuable. They are eager to learn and grow as gardeners but aren’t sure where to start. They may even have an idea for some projects they want to tackle. A coach can help them break projects into manageable tasks so they achieve their goals and avoid costly mistakes along the way. Avid and experienced gardeners also find coaches handy because they can help them grow in specific areas of interest, such as propagation skills or how to increase the yield from their edible plants.
What kinds of things can I learn from a garden coach?
Topics covered by a garden coach have a wide range and are more dependent on an individual coach’s experience and skill set than anything else. The best way to find out is to ask the garden coach you are considering if they could help you with your particular goal or skill. Coaches generally cover areas of maintenance including pruning, deadheading, planting, dividing, weeding, as well as vegetable gardening, plant identification, disease identification and treatment suggestions, integrated or organic pest management, lawn care, plant shopping, and many more. Sometimes, especially with more advanced gardeners, a coach may not feel they are experienced enough to coach a certain skill or task. When that happens, most coaches have relationships with other gardeners in the community and can often partner with someone who has more expertise in a specialized topic to help you achieve your goal.
How much do garden coaching sessions cost?
The cost for a garden coaching session can vary greatly. The cost depends on a number of factors including areas of expertise, skillset, experience level, frequency, and even location. Some coaches offer one time sessions, and some offer bi-weekly or monthly check-ins. Tailor your sessions to meet your time, budget and gardening needs.
How do I find a reputable garden coach near me?
Some garden coaches are people who have no formal horticultural training but want to share their love of gardening, some have advanced degrees in horticulture or botany, and some are somewhere in the middle. Every garden coach can bring important knowledge to the table, so the best way to find the one you want to work with is to contact several and setup a consultation with each of them. Similar to any coaching relationship, the most important aspect is if there is a good personality fit between the coach and the coachee, or person being coached. Additional things to consider include whether the coach listens to your goals and concerns, is professional, and provides references upon request?
Garden coaches can be found on the Internet by completing a Google search for “garden coach” and adding your city to narrow it down to local coaches. You can also ask friends for recommendations. Your local nursery or garden center sometimes has a coach on staff so that could be a good place to start if you have a nursery you know well and trust.
Garden coaches are a great way for gardeners to up-level skills, avoid costly mistakes, and gain some peace of mind in knowing there’s always someone you can call to coach you through a gardening challenge. Maintaining a beautiful garden has never been so easy! Now go master your garden!